Susie is a twelve-year-old with a vibrant and colorful personality. Known for her creativity and intelligence, Susie taught herself how to read long before school began and declared she was already bored ten days into kindergarten.
Her hobbies include ice skating, playing musical instruments, arts and crafts, and painting her nails. She often repaints her nails up to five times a week! Susie also enjoys hanging out with her friends and her siblings; she loves to have fun more than anything.
When Susie was ten, she began to suffer from an intense migraine. Within two hours, Susie had a disorienting experience where her glasses stopped working and one eye seemed to be bulging. A trip to the doctor revealed Susie had a brain tumor sitting on her optic nerve behind one eye. This was an incredibly rare condition for children; the median age of diagnosis is sixty-five years old. Since her diagnosis, Susie has been in treatment for two years with several different medicines and procedures. Her tumor remains as doctors determine how to remove it without affecting her eyesight.
Susie’s family learned about Make-A-Wish during the darkest part of her treatment. Susie had lost thirty pounds in six weeks, her medicine was actually depriving her of oxygen, and the tumor was still growing. The day before Christmas Eve, Susie’s parents met with her doctors and were told Susie could likely qualify for Make-A-Wish. Susie’s mom went home that night and read about the promise of hope on the website. “I remember thinking ‘if anyone needs hope, it’s this little girl’,” said Susie’s mom.
When it came to picking Susie’s wish, she knew exactly what she wanted. Long before her diagnosis, Susie told her mom she wanted to go on a big family trip -- something “better” than camping or visiting Utah’s parks. Susie wanted to go to Hawaii. Susie loved the idea of island life. She wanted to feel the tropical breeze, see big palm trees, and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean.
The winter she turned twelve, Susie’s family flew into Hawaii right at sunset. They stayed in a beautiful suite overlooking the ocean, where Susie could fall asleep to the sound of waves. Every day they had a new adventure, from snorkeling with sea turtles to visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center. Susie, above all, loved visiting the beach where they saw stunning sunrises and sunsets. One night, they even got to watch a blood moon and eclipse! Susie turned twelve the night they visited the Polynesian Cultural Center and loved watching the shows and drinking island slush right out of a pineapple. For mom, the best part was seeing all her family making beautiful memories together. “Part of this cancer journey has taught us that every day is precious,” she said.
Susie’s wish has given her a brighter outlook on life as she moves forward with her condition. “Her wish gave her something to look forward to instead of doctor visits and blood tests,” her mom said. This hope has given her greater acceptance and faith in the future.